Voice from Federal Prison – Trauma Experience

Portia Louder Confinement

My name is Portia Louder and I’m a prisoner in the federal prison system. I am asking the court to vacate my guilty plea because it was not voluntary nor was I competent the day it was entered into. I was brutalized while being held at a county jail in US Marshal custody awaiting a mental evaluation, consequently I suffered a complete mental breakdown. The extent of my suffering and abuse will be made public in a formal civil rights action I will be filing later this year. I was told by my lawyer on the day of my plea change that if I just agreed with what the judge said I wouldn’t have to go back to the county jail and the prosecution wouldn’t argue to keep me in the conditions I was being held in. The prosecution had successfully argued that I was too unstable to be released from jail unless I plead guilty.  The prosecution had successfully argued that I was too unstable too be released from jail even though I wasn’t in jail for any wrong doing only for an evaluation. I should have been returned to Utah and allowed to go to trial instead of being held hostage in an isolation cell while my mental condition deteriorated until I plead guilty.

If I was too unstable to be released from jail, I was certainly too unstable to plead guilty?

There aren’t words to describe the pain and suffering I experienced at Weber County Jail. It is impossible for me to convey the pain, suffering, and fear that I went through. I was literally scared for my life!  I started my period in a dirty cement cell while I was naked.  I begged for pads but was laughed at and gawked at by other inmates and numerous officers.  I wasn’t given the opportunity to shower and wasn’t let out of the cell once to exercise.

Begged and Screamed for Help

I begged and screamed for help, and pounded on the glass where anyone could look in at me without clothes for hours, days. Finally the officers got angry because I was making too much noise and carried me through booking to what they call the, “Hot cell,” a dirty brick room where other drunk inmates had left urine and feces.  It had no water source and no toilet.  I was left in that cell for two days while people passed by.

I was told that if I was going to act like an animal that I could, “Shit and piss,” on the floor like an animal. Then two male officers threw a green blanket at me and said, “This one needs to learn her lesson.”  I was given one drink of water in 2 days. It was in that cell that I had a spiritual experience, I called out to my Father in Heaven for help. I know I wouldn’t have survived the nightmare mentally and possibly even physically if it weren’t for the grace of God.

I was so shook up by the time the terror ended that I didn’t know my own name or how many children I had.  I was injected with medication shortly before the US Marshals picked me up then put on a plane and sent to a Nevada Detention center. I passed out on the way to the detention center and had to be taken to the institution by ambulance. There are medical records detailing these facts in my motion to vacate my plea. I told my government paid lawyers in detail about the abuse that I suffered before and after I plead guilty.

After I plead guilty I asked them to withdraw my plea and they refused! They weren’t willing to go to the county jail with me to review the video footage or ask for my medical records, so I found an attorney to represent me in a civil rights action and went to the jail myself. Watching the video was traumatic, I knew it would be but I wanted proof of what happened to me. The jail told me they would give me the footage and charged me $2,000 dollars to compile it and put it on a hard drive. Then at the last minute they told me I couldn’t have the hard drive. So I wore a hidden camera to the jail and copied a portion of the video from a laptop they let me watch, my lawyer was unaware that I had done so.

Share This Post … Please!

I am posting this today in hopes that you will share it and the truth will be brought to light. We live in the United States of America, men like my father fought and in some cases gave their lives to protect our constitution and freedom.  I was scared to file this motion because I didn’t have any fight left in me.

I was broken when I came to prison, but my blog gave me a voice. It made me feel protected to share what I was going through with all of you. I am currently in custody at FCI Dublin and they have treated me with complete dignity and respect. I had a staff member recently recognize that I was struggling and offer to get me into a trauma program for women who have been violated. Having to relive these facts has brought me extreme anxiety and suffering, I ask you for your prayers as I move forward and ask the court to uphold the law and allow me my constitutional right to go to trial. I wouldn’t have pleaded guilty if it weren’t for the abuse I suffered, as proven by my unwillingness to do so or talk about doing so at any time leading up to my trial date. I am now suffering time away from my family that is a direct result of the abuse I suffered.

Here are two excerpts in the motion I am filing in Federal court

I was taken to the Federal courthouse on August 8, 2014 and pleaded guilty, a few days after I had been on suicide watch and just days after the county jail decided not to charge or punish me for breaking a shower head because I was not mentally competent as in the records quoted above. I met with my attorney in the basement of the courthouse and asked him what our next step was.

He said,

“The judge wants to put you on schizophrenia medication to stabilize you.”

I looked at my lawyer with tears streaming down my cheeks and said,

“Go tell the government I will plead today if they will let me out of jail. I give up John, I can’t keep it together in these conditions”

He said,

“OK, I will go make it happen.”

and off he went.

It all happened so fast, of course I didn’t read through the plea agreement. It didn’t matter what it said, I had to get out of jail. I stood at the courtroom podium with tears streaming down my cheeks. My lawyer told me I had to act normal or the judge wasn’t going to let me out. I told my lawyer I wasn’t pleading guilty unless I got out of jail that day.

He said,

“The judge will let you out, the prosecution has agreed not to contest your release if you plead guilty.” (Up to that point the government had argued I was too unstable to be released)

I changed my guilty plea on August 8, 2014.

It was neither voluntary nor was I competent. I was delusional on that day as I had been diagnosed at the jail that was holding me.  Also, they brutalized me and I have a video making this assertion beyond debate. I was told by my lawyers on the day of my plea change that if I just agreed with what the judge said, that I would not have to go back to the jail because the judge would let me out.

In light of what the county jail system had done to me and what I believed they were going to do again, and had good reason to believe, I would have signed anything and said anything to be released and I believe that anyone else would have as well in order to avoid experiencing again what they had put me through.

In essence, I pleaded guilty only because of a series of traumas I had experienced in county jail, my severely compromised mental state, and my fear that if I did not plead guilty I would be brutalized again. My lawyer promised me if I plead guilty I would be released from custody that day and not returned to the brutality I had faced in jail.

This will all be supported by medical and mental health reports from the jails as well as video footage.

Please share this post and the video footage, I desperately need the support you all can provide. Thank you